How does residential solar work?
With over 3 million Australians currently enjoying the benefits of residential solar on their rooftop, ‘adding solar power’ is becoming an increasingly important part of Australia’s renewable energy journey.
Installing solar at your home has many great benefits – from generating your own energy, reducing power bills, minimising your carbon emissions, and increasing the value of your home. It is therefore helpful to understand how solar works and how you can maximise the excess energy generated by your rooftop solar system.
Step 1: UV rays from sunlight activate your residential solar panels
UV rays from the sun shine onto your solar panels, penetrating the different layers of your PV (photovoltaic) system.
Step 2: Solar energy is converted to electrical energy
Secondly, electrical current flows from the panels down to your solar inverter, which converts direct current electricity (DC) into alternating current (AC) energy for your home via an inverter. DC electricity is a one-directional current (UV rays to panels), and AC electricity (inverter to appliances) is what your inverter converts DC energy into so that the energy captured from your solar panels can be used for appliances in your home.
Step 3: The converted solar energy will power your home
AC electricity will flow from your solar inverter into your switchboard (breaker box), which will then circulate throughout your home.
Step 4: Any excess energy is stored or returned as a potential bill credit
Because AC energy is multi-directional (can travel back and forth), unused energy can flow back to your utility meter and remain available for consumption. In most cases, homeowners can return that unused AC energy back to the electrical grid in the form of energy credits (feed-in tariff credit) on their next energy bill. This process is known as net energy metering.
What is net energy metering (NEM)?
Additionally, net energy metering (NEM) works by sending the energy to your household first and any extra energy that your home solar system produces which is not used is sent back to the power grid.
You are credited for the excess energy produced on your electricity bill. These credits are known as Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs), which will appear on your electricity bill that could help you to reduce your overall electricity bill.
What else can I do with the excess energy produced by my residential solar system?
You can opt to add a solar battery to your existing solar system. The solar battery will store the excess energy, which can be used for future consumption (instead of electricity from the grid). This could include during peak periods when everyone is at home or during infrequent blackouts.